EXPRESS INDIA of May20,2014

Anadi Naik

A nationwide election is a sure way of correcting the course of the country. If the country moves in the right direction, then a fresh election gives the stamp of approval. If the nation does not like the move, then it rejects the movers and brings in new people. That is why ten years ago India rejected the BJP idea of “India shining” and installed the Congress Party in power. The Bajpayee Government had done a lot of good. But the country wanted to do better. So, it voted for the Congress Party. At the initial stage the Congress Party brought in new ideas and did some really good things. Through various developmental projects it was able to reduce poverty, especially rural poverty, in India.

Congress was the oldest political Party. Therefore, it had naturally built in support throughout the country. Through government patronages it tried to ingratiate different sections of the population. It mistakenly thought that by handing out entitlements and rebates it could keep in its fold a permanent class of supporters. However, it forgot the lessons from its past that baskets of subsidies, rebates and entitlements would not solve the real problems facing the nation. The employment for the youthful work force and building infrastructures for progress remained the nation’s cherished goal. The Congress Party tried but fell short in fulfilling this goal during its tenure for the last ten years. Now, the result speaks for itself.

Nearly 800 million people in India spoke their minds in the just finished national election. Over a period of 6 weeks they were bombarded with information, misinformation, speculation and bravado. Through door to door appeal and canvassing, Party workers cajoled their prospective voters. All sides of the political divide made promises and some were more skillful in promising than others. Those who were successful in promising better or packaging their promises in better foil won the hearts of the people and earned their votes. In the just completed election cycle the Bharatiya Janata Party did a better job than all of its rivals.

The spoils go to the victor. In that sense BJP, as the single largest Party in the Parliament, would form a cabinet headed by Narendra Modi. From the beginning Modi has remained a divisive force in Indian politics. No one politician has ever raised so much of anxiety among so many people in the country as Narendra Modi. Even if he is repeatedly been found to be out of the loop in the Godhra massacre, he is forever connected to its stench and it just does not go away. Muslims fear as to what would happen under him now that he would be the Prime minister.

In order to gain power, politicians tend to utilize the raw emotions of their constituents. In that sense Mody and BJP using their Hindutva card can be excused. Such expressions served the interests of a section of voters that supported BJP. But the election is over and Modi of the BJP now stands to represent all of India. Therefore, a Modi Government trying to fulfill a partisan or parochial interest would not serve the interest of the nation well. There are emotional issues like multiple marriages among Muslim men; special status in Kashmir; the specter of Ayodhya where building a Rama temple remains a goal of many BJP supporters. Now that Narendra Modi is at the helm, there will be pressure from the Sangha Parivar (RSS) and others to address these issues. However, in the face of problems like rampant unemployment throughout the country; corruption everywhere; needs for infrastructure building and economic development; the emotional issues mentioned above become secondary issues. It would be wise for the government to let them stay shelved for a while. By voting for the BJP the country has voted for a new set of ideas and for a different track for running the country. However, it should not be understood as a free hand to alter the core values of the country. Any action by the government in relation to dealing with minorities is going to create an equal and opposite reaction from outside that would cause unnecessary distraction for the new Government and the people it serves.

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